All About Growing Winter Squash

Collected here is practical general information about growing winter squash that you can apply to multiple varieties, including butternut, acorn, and spaghetti squash.

  • Growing Winter Squash - varieties
    If you enjoy gardening you'll enjoy growing winter squash in its many diverse types. Shown here, from left to right, are buttercup, delicata, ‘Red Kuri’ buttercup, butternut and dumpling squash.
  • growing winter squash - Acorn squash
    Old-fashioned squash pies laced with cinnamon and ginger will never go out of style, but newer trends in winter squash cuisine favor savory risottos and creamy, squash-stuffed ravioli — and don’t forget to eat the tasty seeds!

  • Growing Winter Squash - varieties
  • growing winter squash - Acorn squash

(For details on growing many other vegetables and fruits, visit our Crop at a Glance collection page.)

Colorful, curvaceous and a cinch to store, winter squash is one of the most nutritious crops you can grow, and these spectacular fruits hold their — vitamins A and C and other healthful riches — throughout their long storage life. Growing winter squash is easy whatever the variety you choose, and butternuts, buttercups and other types with dense flesh can stand in for carrots, pumpkins and sweet potatoes in any recipe.

Types to Try

Seed catalogs typically sort winter squash varieties into the following types, listed here in order of their popularity with the MOTHER EARTH NEWS Gardening Advisory Group:

Butternut squash combine rich flavor and smooth texture with natural resistance to squash vine borers. These bottle-shaped fruits have buff-brown rinds and will store for six months or longer.

Buttercup squash rival butternuts in flavor and productivity. The vigorous plants produce heavy crops of squat, green fruits. Fruits will store for four to six months.

Hubbard squash and kabocha squash range from medium-sized to huge and have drier flesh than other winter squash. Rind color varies with variety, and all varieties will store for four to six months. (Hubbard squash are so attractive to squash vine borers that some gardeners use this type as a “trap crop” for this insect pest.)

A. Cain
7/20/2018 12:53:54 PM

If you have a small space, an excellent way to grow winter squashes is on an arch. My husband built me a 6 ft. arch of PVC pipe and hogwire, and placed it with one "foot" in each raised bed. I put a ton of compost on each side and planted the squash plants close together. I just have 200-300 pounds of spaghetti squash growing on a 3 ft wide arch. I'll be giving it away like crazy when it ripens, as my husband couldn't possibly eat it all. Giving food to those who need it is the most fun part of gardening (with the possible exception of eating it!) Grow a bit too much and share! You can make a real difference in someone's life without much more work or resources.

8/17/2016 6:10:10 PM

Hi, I have planted seeds from a friend that were given to me that she had seed saved. They are labeled as KOMUCHA squash. However, now that they have matured and they started out a pale yellow/green color and then changed to having some dark green spots along with the light green color base, to now being dark green and some have the still dark green markings or spots. The longer I leave it on the vine, the darker green the squash becomes. Also, most at an oblong shape, long and very heavy, but some are kind of rounder looking, but all have the same color and markings. I finally cut one of the dark green ones open that I had cut off a few weeks ago and now today found out that it is SPAGHETTI SQUASH!. So I baked it and it is very delicious. Have you any idea the kind of spaghetti squash that this is? I have only seen a very few other photos online from other people having this dark green spaghetti squash. Thanks. Darlia

8/7/2013 1:27:36 PM

I have harvested my butternut squashes...they are the beautiful golden color, and the skin is resistant to being nicked. The vines are still green. Will the plant flower and produce a second crop if I leave it in the ground?



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